Magazine article Public Finance

Brown Goes Green

Magazine article Public Finance

Brown Goes Green

Article excerpt

It seems that Gordon Brown's successor as chancellor will not only have to count the pounds, he or she will have to count the carbon too.

This week's draft Climate Change Bill has set out the government's stall on sustainability. And, for once, ministers appear to be making a radical and bold attempt to deal with an issue that has moved from political drama to crisis in record time.

Brown, a late convert to the green cause, is using the language of finance to show his commitment. There will be five-year carbon budgets monitored by a body not dissimilar to the current Monetary Policy Committee.

Both the chancellor and David Miliband, the environment secretary, claim that the UK is leading the way on combating climate change. Miliband went so far as to describe the proposed legislation as an 'international landmark'.

This has elements of truth. The Bill is certainly the first of its kind in the world and has received a generally positive response. But ministers will have to look to their own carbon footprint if they want to avoid accusations of hypocrisy.

A report last week from the government's green watchdog, the Sustainable Development Commission, offered a scathing assessment of departmental performance in terms of targets for carbon, waste and water. …

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